Public speaking during contract pitches? Stressful meetings with the CEO who
wants to squeeze every last penny of profit from the P&L before he meets the
investors? Or the investors themselves, all hostile and ready to knock holes in
the balance sheet?
How about rockets fired by Iraqi insurgents? Or perhaps a journey into rural
Uganda to check on the spending of UN money while trying to avoid members of the
notoriously violent Lords Resistance Army?
These were two postings for accountants we’ve highlighted recently, which
show that accountants, despite their grey or dull image, sometimes find
themselves in the firing line. Er, literally.
It reminds me of the Iraqi invasion aftermath when the Big Four jostled to
become the first firm to reopen offices in Bagdad. It didn’t take a genius to
figure out what was about to happen – in short, millions, perhaps billions of
dollars were about to be spent on rebuilding and a plethora of other activities
which would all need some sort of financial control.
Of course, the forensics guys were then called in to track missing millions
associated with oil for food and other projects. Accountants were called in to
manage the funds for the rebuilding and aid work and then track down the funds
that go missing during that work.
And why? Because there’s always money in a conflict zone, whether it be state
aid or charity funds, it all still needs to be tracked and managed.
If that money is ever to be accounted for it won’t be done by a man with a
rifle. It will be done by a man or woman with a pencil, a spreadsheet and
perhaps, if they’re lucky, a decent laptop. Accountants are as essential to
frontlines these days as armies and artillery.
Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age
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